As threats from around the world remain on our nation’s horizon, the Navy and Marine Corps remain ready to respond at a moment’s notice.
For more than 30 years, Exercise Steel Knight has served as 1st Marine Division’s culminating event for pre-deployment certification, under I Marine Expeditionary Force. Today, as the nature of threats evolve, so does the training. Steel Knight 23 put Marines to the test to meet challenges they could face in the future.
This year, the scope of Steel Knight 23 expanded across every element of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. Marines with 1st MARDIV, 1st Marine Logistics Group and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing trained alongside Sailors and Marines with Expeditionary Strike Group 3. The exercise brought thousands of service members together to enhance naval integration, refine joint planning and execute expeditionary advance base operations.
Marines and Sailors conducted Steel Knight 23 in two phases, a command post exercise and a mission rehearsal exercise. The CPX tested each subordinate command’s ability to collect intelligence on enemy forces, coordinate joint fire support and simulate strikes, while sustaining the MAGTF with critical supplies across dispersed locations. Additionally, the CPX enabled all domain operations to include cyber, space, and information operations to complement kinetic actions in the operational environment.
“Steel Knight taught us how we would functionally work together in the context of a fight in the maritime littorals to gain an advantage over a very challenging adversary." U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Benjamin Watson, commanding general of 1st MARDIV, I MEF
In the MRX of Steel Knight 23, Marines and Sailors worked together to maneuver combat ships, Marine aviation squadrons and move forces from the sea to the land.
“Steel Knight provides the venue to experiment with new technology, future operating concepts and to test out our partnership with the Navy to operate as a naval integrated warfighting organization in a future fight,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Benjamin Watson, commanding general of 1st MARDIV, I MEF.
Steel Knight 23 certified 1st Marine Regiment and Combat Logistics Battalion 1 for the upcoming annual rotation of Marines and Sailors deploying to Australia as part of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin 2023.
As part of the certification requirements, Marines and Sailors responded to simulated crises and contingency scenarios in a contested environment.
“Simulated combat operations are ongoing to execute sea denial operations so the joint force can then control and have freedom of movement and can maneuver in a combat scenario to refine operational capabilities and tactics, techniques and procedures,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. James Kirk, Expeditionary Strike Group 3 commander.
Photo by Courtesy Photo
U.S. Marines with 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Marine Air Control Group 38, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, fire FIM-92A Stinger surface-to-air missiles during exercise Steel Knight 23 on San Clemente Island, California, Dec. 5, 2022. Exercise Steel Knight 23 provides 3rd MAW an opportunity to refine Wing-level warfighting in support of I Marine Expeditionary Force and fleet maneuver.
Steel Knight 23 gives Marines and Sailors the chance to rehearse EABO – a key factor to Force Design 2030. EABO involves the employment of forces in isolated environments as well as Marines and Sailors operating across contested maritime areas. This concept challenges a forces’ ability to plan communicate, and operate on small island chains, sea lanes and aboard ships, scattered across vast areas while still maintaining synchronization with each other.
To rehearse the EABO concept across multiple locations, participating units spread throughout southern and central California. Training locations included Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, San Clemente Island and Fort Hunter Liggett, each serving as a scenario location for the purpose of the exercise. Marines coordinated logistical support and planned operations across the different locations to simulate operating across isolated areas in a future conflict.
“Steel Knight taught us how we would functionally work together in the context of a fight in the maritime littorals to gain an advantage over a very challenging adversary,” said Watson. “It’s important that we pursue every warfighting advantage. None of us have sufficient combat power to do this on our own.”
“Steel Knight 23 makes us more ready to bring the team together so we learn from each other and refine our processes, so we can exercise and utilize those capabilities quickly to outpace an enemy and achieve sea control that we’re going to need to enable the joint force in a military conflict that we can envision in the future,” said Kirk.
For photos and videos of Exercise Steel Knight 2023, visit our feature page at the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at http://www.dvidshub.net/feature/SteelKnight.